It was a dramatic final as Wexford overturned a six point deficit in the final five minutes to put their name on the Sheehan Cup. Tom’s led from the 13th minute until the end of normal time, and on two occasions when Wexford looked like they might overturn the lead, Tom’s reasserted themselves on the game. Tom’s let victory slip from their grasp in the final minutes and could not shut the door on Wexford in the final run-in to the full time whistle.
The first half was marked by some uncharacteristic missed opportunities from both sides. Shane Howley missed a couple for Tom’s, as did the usually reliable Shane Murphy for Wexford. It took a little while for the scores to come. Wexford had an opportunity to strike first after winning an early penalty when Shane Murphy was held. Murphy took it himself and fluffed the rise. Tom’s saved on the line – it was a harbinger of the half that lay ahead for the Wexford Corner forward who was off target for the remainder first period. Tom’s played well as a team and got some great work from midfielders James Dooley and Trevor Kelly. In fact, Tom’s played well from goalkeeper to corner forward and swarmed Wexford so as not to let their opponents settle. Dooley was a prime example of the effort made by Tom’s and the Athenry man had a hand in scores from Fran Keenan and Kelly. David Busteed, lining out at corner forward for Tom’s, put the finishing touches on a well worked point after showing a great turn of speed. Wexford looked a little knocked out of their stride by the hard working Tom’s. Murphy opened the scoring with a point after 7 minutes for Wexford, and four minutes later Howley squared the game with a point from a free he won himself. Tom’s worked themselves into a five points to two lead, and with Tom’s in the ascendancy, Gearoid O’Connor put a lovely score over from the wing for Wexford, however, the wing forward was having a quiet enough day. After Howley made it 0-6 for Tom’s to 0-3 for Wexford, Peter Ryan found himself through with Dermot Fox to beat, but Fox was up to the shot. Tom’s led by three at the break.
Wexford had the scores level one minute into the second half. A quickly taken free from Murphy found the Tom’s back line napping and Ger Griffey put it into the far corner of the net. Colm Kearns followed with a point and Wexford were now ahead by a score. The effort was noticeably lifted by the model county men, but Tom’s were not backing down. The westerners did not lose their focus and soon had the lead back to three points. Howley (4), Seamus Higgins, and Ciaran Moore each notched scores and with the final quarter of the game approaching Tom’s led by five points. Wexford pulled it back to three with points from substitute John Heathering and Shane Murphy free, but once again Tom’s restored the six point advantage with scores from subs Tommy O’Brien and Conor O’Callaghan, and another from corner forward Busteed. Tom’s were looking good to collect the cup, but it all fell apart in the final five minutes. A soft enough 21-yard free was awarded to Wexford, and Ger Griffey hammered it low and into the back of the net. Having been able to reestablish themselves earlier in the game, Tom’s could not buy a point at this stage. Wexford sensed that the win was still there for the taking. A free from Heathering brought Wexford within two, and two points from Griffey in the space of a minute drew Wexford level. With the game in injury time Shane Murphy, who had missed all day, put the winning point over the bar in injury time. Tom’s had a last chance to force extra time with a free from the wing, and in cruel contrast it was Howley who mishit the free with the last puck of the game. Wexford saved their best until it was almost too late, though even the Brighton men will concede that it was a game they stole.
Wexford: E. Spruhan, G. Dunphy, D. Redmond, B. Dalton, D. Magill, J. Kenny, J. Kehoe, J. Foley, C. Kearns (0-1), P. Ryan, G. O’Connor (0-1), S. Murphy (0-4), G. Griffey (2-2). Sub: J. Heathering (0-2). Fr. Tom’s: D. Fox, S. O’Brien, D. Nealon, P. Heneghan, B. Harding, E. Cummins, T. Kelly (0-1), J. Dooley, S. Howley (0-7), S. Higgins (0-1), F. Keenan (0-1), D. Busteed (0-2), C. Moore (0-1). Subs: T.O’Brien (0-1), C. O’Callaghan (0-1).